Jen Kirchhoefer


“So, what’s the bill? Come on, come on, how much?”

“How much you got?” asked the mechanic.

“No, I’m asking how much the repairs are.”

“And I’m asking how much you got!” replied the mechanic. This short scene was brought to you by a popular film released in 1983 starring Chevy Chase.

It’s a relevant question, and an even more relevant response. Given the current situation of the housing market, it is not an uncommon scenario. In fact, just last weekend I received a call from a gentleman who wanted to know what the going rate would be right now for his home. I told him that I would be happy to pull some numbers for him and give him a ballpark estimate. However, once he started telling me about the property, I knew I would need to actually come take a look. His home happened to be resting upon a fairly valuable and large parcel of land — a unique property in many ways. I scheduled a time to meet with him later that afternoon.

As we walked this beautiful, large parcel, complete with stables, barns, farm animals and one enormous female buffalo (I think the girls are called “cows,” which is not a compliment), this gentleman turned to me and asked me what I thought it was all worth.

“The views, the serenity, the space, the sounds and even the smells ... that, my friend, you can’t put a price on,” I told him. “But in answer to your question, it is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.”

If I could have left it like that, without further explanation, I would have. But, unfortunately, I had to tell the rest of the story, which is this: “Of course, it has to appraise.”

If a bank or any lending institution is going to lend on a property, they need to know that their investment is protected. They will not loan more than what a property appraises for. In this case, an appraisal is required. If a buyer is paying cash, an appraisal is not required.

With this particular property, the very features that make it so valuable are also the same features that make it so difficult to put a value on for an appraiser. It is easy to determine the value of home that sits in a subdivision of other homes just like it that have recently sold.

Just yesterday I was contacted by a past client who is getting ready to sell. I met with them, toured their home, pulled some comparisons and informed them of their maximum value. They wanted more.

“Here’s the problem,” I explained. “You may get an offer for more. However, I cannot, for all my efforts, pull a higher number. That means an appraiser will not, most likely, be able to pull those numbers either. In this case, unless we get a cash offer, this particular property is not worth what someone is willing to pay for it. There is actually a good chance that someone is willing to pay more than what it is worth, but if they don’t have cash to come in with the difference, then we have to go with the appraised value. FYI ... most people are not going to come in with cash for the difference."

In this instance, comparisons of like homes can be easily pulled to determine current value. However, with a unique home, on a good amount of land, with outbuildings, in an area where there is very minimal farm land available, this can pose a challenge. Fortunately, I love a good challenge. Bring it on.

After touring the property and doing a decent amount of research, we were able to land upon a value that we both felt was accurate for the current market. When or if this gentleman decides to sell, I guess we will find out. Meantime, his is the home where the buffalo roam.

Jen Kirchhoefer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at or 801-645-2134.

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